Monday, June 28, 2010

2011 election draws near, where are the gladiators

They say the change should start with us. I am willing to vote for a progressive next year; it’s just that I can't seem to find any.
Pat Utomi used to be the 'man' but he has since dropped back to the usual wordy posting on Facebook. One had hoped Donald Duke would morph into some kind of Kennedy, but like the others, he seemed to have too many ... See more skeletons to bury.

I hear Dele Momodu is gunning for the top job, but I fear he might move the capital from Abuja to Accra. Besides, beyond musicians, actors, money bags and the like, I doubt if the man on the street knows who he is, abi welders and conductors dey read Ovation.

Bankole could have been a 'to die for' but the guy own worst pass, like Chimaroke, he seems to be keen on squandering a golden opportunity to endear himself to his fellow youths.

As it stands, I want to vote next year, but unlike last time around, when around this time I already knew Pat Utomi was going to get my vote, I am at loss as to who will fly the flag of the progressives.

Jonathanlitics or not, I am yet to be sold on the man, he seems to be a man with purpose and good intent, but so was OBJ.

I WILL VOTE sha, for Fashola... I don't know who else for.

In The Hills Of Anike, Awgu LGA, Enugu State

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Yes, writers and books are ‘in’ in Nigeria

I was again opportune to be at the Island on Saturday 26th June 2010 for two literary events: the Book Jam at the galleria and the review of Nnedi Okorafor’s ‘Zarah the Windseeker’.

For some, there might be nothing worth celebrating in two book events in one day in a city as big as Lagos, but for those of us who had sought for avenues to interact with established writers, this is as big as it gets.

Yes, Nigerian literature seem to be going places, buoyed up by a resurgence that is bringing smiles to the faces of the old timers and a burst of writing energy from emerging writers. I recall not so long ago when the only avenues where one could interact with fellow writers were the monthly Association of Nigerian Authors Lagos chapter (ANA Lagos) meetings at the National theatre (dry mouth meetings, as one old timer used to say), Tosyn Bucknor’s S.H.A.R.E and Taruwa, that tough more of a weekly open-mike-night, still found it worthy to incorporate poetry readings and the like.

A couple of years back, Nigeria writing on the net, though available, was spread too thin and appeared only able to accommodate the known names, a fact that was serious source of frustration for amateur writers like me who then needed feedbacks on their attempts at stringing words together (we had to contend with feedbacks from foreigners who knew next to nothing about the environment we were writing from).

Then came neo-Nigerian sites like, and the like, which allowed writers avenues to display their work and get feedback from people who understood where they were coming from.

These days, there are an abundance of sites dedicated to Nigerian and African literature and social network sites like facebook allows young writers to not only post their works but also tag established writers who offer advice and encouragements . One such site garnering massive following among new writers is Myne Whiteman’s

I missed the Zarah the Windseker’s review as my African timing failed me (I think it’s time I join the modern age) and I got to the venue one hour late, with my copy of Nnedi’s novel clasped tightly under my armpit, to find the event I was so looking forward to over. I was annoyed, but only at myself (I had hoped to say a lot about the fantasy genre in Nigeria, since I too write traditional fantasy and felt my contribution would have been welcomed), I didn’t have much time to be annoyed as I quickly bought Seffi Atta’s ‘everything good will come’ and Chimamanda’s ‘Purple hibiscus’ and jumped on the next Okada to the Silverbird Galleria where Bookjam was in full session.

It was a fulfilling session (though I came too late and didn’t get to partake in the item seven) with Toni Kan Onwordi, author of ‘Nights of the Creaking Bed’ and Abraham Oshoko, author of ‘June 12: The Struggle for Power’ giving deep insights into their work and life.

Yeah, I got to talk about writing with writers and left feeling elated. Good news is that we get to do it again on July 3rd 2010 as DADA books showcase the writers involved in what is the most anticipated anthology in the country at the moment: Lagos: 2060. Yep I am one of those writers.

Friday, June 25, 2010

In Aba, Outdoors at night is synonymous with suicide

I have heard severally about the security situation in my home region, the South East, but have never really given it much thought until a friend visited over the weekend and received a call from her step-mother about a call her dad received earlier from perceived men of the underworld who were demanding he settles them or face the music.

When I laughed at the incredulity of the whole situation, my friend told me that its more heartbreaking than funny to her because its very serious.

Her dad, she said, was in very big trouble as the crooks are now targeting anybody that can pay even as little as a hundred thousand Naira and their calls and letters are not mere pranks to get people scared but real missives that carry their intent.

She went on to narrate how they have in the past sent letters to government officials, banks and even the police. In Abia state, she said. The crooks are kings as the government is also in hiding.

I don't know, but if what she said is true, (which I think, going by the President's interview yesterday, is.) then governance in Abia state is a mockery that shouldn't be allowed to continue beyond this dispensation - I am sure this should be an indictment on those who arranged for someone like the present governor to emerge in the first place.

I hear too that refuse has taken over environment and the whole city smells like a dump site.

The question is, how long shall the people of Abia state continue to endure the rotten fruits of bad governance while neighbours like Enugu and Imo progress by the day?


At the moment my friend's family is running around to raise the demanded sum before the deadline the criminals gave. All thought of contacting the police is out of it because they are said to also exist in a state of fear in Abia state, out-manned and out-gunned by the crooks. Pathetic this naija?

Pilgrimages: Thirteen African Writers. Thirteen Cities. Thirteen Books

The Pilgrimages Project

Pilgrimages is a ground-breaking, pan-African project organised by The Chinua Achebe Center, Bard College, in partnership with Kachifo Limited in Nigeria, Kwani? Trust in Kenya, and Chimurenga in South Africa, in celebration of Africa’s first world cup.

The project involves 13 African writers visiting 12 cities across the continent and one in Brazil for two weeks during the World Cup. At the end of the project, each writer will produce a book of non-fiction travel literature based on their experiences, forming a series to be published next year.

The Writers

The writers and cities involved in the project are Funmi Iyanda (Durban), Alain Mabanckou (Lagos), Abdourahman A. Waberi (Salvador, Bahia), Akenji Ndumu (Abidjan), Doreen Baingana (Hargeisa), Chris Abani (Johannesburg), Uzodinma Iweala (Timbuktu), Billy Kahora (Luanda), Kojo Laing (Cape Town), Binyavanga Wainaina (Touba), Yvonne Owuor (Kinshasha), Victor Lavelle (Kampala), Nicole Turner (Nairobi) and Nimco Mahmud Hassan (Khartoum).

Alain Mabanckou in Lagos

Alain Mabanckou from Congo-Brazzaville is considered one of the most talented writers in Francophone African literature today. His most notable works are Verre Casse (Broken Glass), Bleu-Blanc-Rouge (Blue-White-Red) and The African Pyscho. His work, Memoirs of a Porcupine, won the Prix Renaudot, one of the highest distinctions in Francophone literature.

Alain visits Lagos from the 25th of June to 2nd of July 2010, during which time he will crisscross the city, from the ‘highbrow’ to the ‘slum’. Each day of his stay will alternate stops at football viewing centres, local bukkas and beer parlours, upmarket bars and relevant cultural events, and will include interviews with local denizens, artists, writers and other social commentators. Alain will be guided around the city by architect, writer and publisher, Ayodele Arigbabu, who will also blog about their daily experiences on the Pilgrimages website.

The Website

A dynamic and state-of-the art multimedia website has been launched as part of the Pilgrimages project, at During the 13 Pilgrimages the writers and their local guides will blog on the website. Correspondents, artists and photographers in each city will also post topical content on the site.

The Books

The Pilgrimages Project will culminate in the launch of twelve books in four African cities in January 2012 during the African Nations’ Cup. The collection promises to be the most significant, single addition to the continent’s archive of literary knowledge since the African Writers’ Series of the 1960s. The books will be published by Kachifo Limited in Nigeria, Kwani? Trust in Kenya, Chimurenga in South Africa and a francophone publisher to be announced.

For more information on the Pilgrimages Project, please visit the website:

For more information on Pilgrimages and Alain Mabanckou in Lagos, please email

or call


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Give your attitude altitude. Take a hike the Hills of Enugu

Put on your adventure capes this season and take a tour to Enugu state, south eastern Nigeria. See nature’s last bastion in this increasingly choky planet, get away from the concrete forests and bask in the freshness of clean mountain air. If you are gutsy hearted why not tour the caves and waterfalls amongst the Hills of Enugu.

The Hills are part of the greater Udi hills which stretches from Udi Local Government Area of the state into Abia and Imo states where her foothills pierces through Okigwe and Umuneochi local government areas of both states.

In Enugu, the Hill plays a prominent role as it appears to hold the coal city in the crock of its arm, shielding her western and northern approaches.

The Hill’s northern headland caresses the university town of Nsuka where it has inspired countless writers across generations from Okigbo to Ohaeto and welcomes the northern visitor to ancestral home of the Igbo.

For the best view of Enugu one need to visit the ancient town of Enugwu Ngwo, located on the Hill above Enugu. Enugwu Ngwo is assessable through the decades old Hill road that cuts perilously through Milken Hill or modern the expressway that reduced much of the Hill’s influence on the city that it gifted a name. From here, most of the Coal City spreads out like wallpaper. Enugwu Ngwo (roughly translated to mean Ngwo on-the-hill) hosts a small nature reserve, the Ngwo Pine Forest. Here rows of pine trees form a natural canopy ideal for picnickers; the natural carpet of pine leaves makes this more interesting as it can serve as natural blanket. Also, if you enjoy hiking, you can hike down to the valley below where a waterfall within a natural cave makes for a good feast for the eyes.

There are countless river beaches where white sands washed down from the hills around Enugu form large expanse of sandbanks ideal for frolicking.

The Nike Lake resort is a noted tourist hotel that caters for international guests.
If you like history, then there are the old coal mines and coal workers camp which are still open for tourists. But the real attraction of the hills lies further away from Enugu itself, in the hinterland, deep inside the hills, where ancestral villages cradle the crest of hills.

Here on account of terrain, most towns are usually visible to each other and in clear weather; one can see the gas flares of the refinery in Port Harcourt to the south and the city lights of Enugu to the north. This is more noticeable around the Mmaku axis in Awgu Local Government Area where several villages are visible from the hill adjacent to the catholic center. The natural beauty it made this place a natural choice as host for 2008 edition of the Gulder ultimate search reality show that was held in Enugu state.

Around the fringe villages on the hills like; Nkwe, Ezere, Awgunta, Newenta etc, height gives advantage to sight making the border towns of Imo, Anambra and Abia states always visible.

There are numerous stone hedges and terraced farmlands dating back hundreds of years, preserved by the natives. Then there are the osu caves in Ezere, said to have sheltered the natives in the ancient days.

Also preserved by traditions are species of wildlife, totems here. The most common is the rhesus monkey that inhabits the forests and several species of fish. Killing them used to be taboo, but several centuries of harmonious relation that gave them little fear for man – they can be bold enough at times to steal food right from your table – is now being eroded by the activities of new breed Christian missionaries, who preach that they are evil incarnates of evil ancestors. Most of these wildlife, plentiful ten years ago are surely in danger of extinction.

One can’t describe the feeling of bliss as fading sun lays play a symphony on the zinc roof in hamlets below, or the wonder of the setting sun’s kaleidoscope upon the distant hills as dusk eats up day light.
Culturally, the natives are still well attuned, especially in the hinterlands, where masquerades and cultural dances abound.

Suitable activities here range from hiking, bird watching, mountain biking and wild life viewing.

Apart from the advantages of proximity to two major highways, the Enugu-Port Harcourt and the Onitsha-Enugu express ways – both of which cross her turf – the Udi Hills are a less than one hour away from the airport in Enugu, three from the Port Harcourt international Airport and one hour thirty minutes from the Owerri airport.
Though the mysteries of the Hills are vast the unraveling is for the strong. Climb to the top of the South East and breathe the air of freedom.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Gains of being Nigerian

As Nigerians, we subsist in a country that grants us more headaches than broad-lipped smiles. Many here try to live above board, try to be different, but the society makes that very difficult, throwing numerous fetters across the road they tread.

For a country that have over the years fought – even if only by proclamations – to extradite itself from the negative image it has somehow managed to garner over the years, Nigeria appears to be losing more credibility than it garners as the days go by.

The reasons for this is not as simple as most people think. Though it is easy to point accusing fingers at the ruling elite that have undeniably held the country to ransom for years the fact remains that even the accuser is guilty of some form of illegality or another.

In seeking scapegoats, people overlook a very important factor that serve the entrenchment of corruption, those acts of illegality that though widespread, have come to be accepted as the norm by a society that has, in effect, become as lawless as the fictional banana republic.

In any society governed by the rule of law, it is illegal to do anything outside the law. In Nigeria reverse is the case, here the law is tilted easily by people to suit whatever suits them in a particular time. Here the constitution exists only as a means to the self serving ends of the ruling cabal, who juggle its interpretation at whim. The masses that are expected to checkmate the excesses of the leaders are either too complacent or after their own pockets – without access to the national cake, they loot their brother poor, who left with no option, succumb to the dictates of a disjointed society, either that or go to blazes.

It may baffle foreigners how easily people here set their own rules and appears to get away from it, but it is as normal as breathing exhaust fumes in the city. Here, transport fares fluctuate according to the transporters’ whim, having little to do with the petrol price they base their assertions on or the distance travelled. Also, it has become fashionable to hike transport fares during religious holidays, sometimes by as much as 700 percent – Those who have cause to travel to the east during the Christmas period are very familiar with this.

Then there is the question deregulation that though not yet signed into law is already common place at filling stations. Even when the elusive regular supply of petroleum products is obtainable, the petrol stations subject customers to extra costs that have no bearing to their purchase. One wonders where the now popular ‘nozzle money’ originated from (nozzle money refers the extra N20, N50 or N100 pump attendants charge customers before or after selling products to them. This nozzle fee is usually higher when you are buying in a lower middle class or ‘poor’ areas. The filling stations also charge about N50 extra for those who are buying with a gallon. No explanation is given for these extra charges other than ‘na moni fo nozzle now’)

Perhaps more confusing is the strange tenancy rates that effectively make it impossible for anybody below the middle class range to afford a decent accommodation. This is truer of Lagos where a single room with a small bathroom/toilet attached goes for about N100, 000 a year, and the tenant is required to pay two-three years rent advance and an between N50, 000-N70, 000 for what is commonly referred to as agent and agreement fee. At a total cost of N400, 000, one wonders how a fresh graduate earning the current minimum wage can afford it.
At the moment, the Lagos state house of assembly is considering a bill that is expected to check the excesses of landlords, but the bill have received knocks from stakeholders for being defective in some key aspects like: amount charged a new tenant, number of years advance for a new tenant and the vexing issue of agent and agreement fees that are usually collected by the same person, the landlord.

The antics of Nigerian Police are another issue that the Nigerian masses have had to contend with. The police are known for their almost fanatical hatred for the man on the street, the very people they are paid to protect. While they fawn on the rich, answering their every whim, including arbitrary arrest of the poor and brutalization of any perceived enemy, they fail continually to protect the masses from oppressors, looking the other way while the poor are milked dry by transporters, filling stations, landlords and the ruling class. They only stretch forth their hands for the usual egunje that the Okada and bus drivers are forced to proffer then look the other way. The only thing that strikes one as funny is the fact that the majority of the police also subsist in abject want, at par with those whose suffering they aid. It has been said that they too are victims of the same oppressors.

We exist day by day, wondering when the change will come, when we can worry only about mundane things. We ask questions, but get no reply, because our answers only echo in the air, to rebound off the ears of those who are supposed to make a difference.

Will Nigeria survive without the common man, the man on the street, the salt of the earth? I doubt it, and I am sure even the greedy politicians do too. If we can’t get even a decent one room apartment, if we can’t exist without been subjected to the whims of corrupt people, if we can’t get a little protection from those assigned that duty, then it may be time for us to take our affairs into our own hands.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hollywood and the African: whither our culture

Even if the average African viewer tries to balance the portrayal of Africa in Hollywood sponsored movies against the information that might have been available to the movie makers, it still remains very obvious that the average Hollywood movie, deliberately or not, continuously portrays Africa in a distorted light.

It has become accepted norm for Hollywood to assign a singular, peculiar speech pattern and mannerism to the African character regardless of geographical origin. These movies also go out of their way to avoid modern Africa, choosing instead to lay emphasis on slums or build throw back African villages, images of what was obtainable a hundred years ago – It appears Hollywood allow for time shift in movies about the west but refuse to do same for those set in Africa.

One might try to trivialize this Tarzan and King Kong mentality, and argue that those movies about Africa stem from another era, but how does one explain the bastardization of traditional African society in recent movies like Wonderful World, Phat girls, Sahara, when the sun sets and the blockbuster Wolverine (though one might give Wolverine some kudus, it still toed that sour line).

One recalls with unabashed horror a housemaid, supposedly in urban Lagos, near the end of ‘Phat girls’, who conveniently couldn’t understand basic English, the official language of Nigeria for decades (she naturally should be able speak the common pidgin variant) and how the Lagos disappeared in ‘Sahara’ replaced by a dirty little sparsely inhabited islet – very insulting, methinks, to depict a very modern city with two airports, several harbours and millions of inhabitants, this way.
It gets worse, in ‘wonderful world’ where only a small airstrip with a single engine airplane represents Dakar airport, making one wonder if the crew could not get hold of a clip of the country’s international airport or even one of several local airports? Then, again conveniently, a single-room house represented a village in Senegal, how obtainable is that.

Then a five hour trip from Lagos to eastern Nigeria became ‘a two day trip’ in ‘Wolverine’ and the heroes of ‘Sahara’ managed to navigate by boat from Lagos to Mali through a Niger River that aside from being dammed in Nigeria, is wildly known to be not navigable after Lokoja in central Nigeria, at least by a boat the size they used – Makes one wonder if the director bothered to surf the net to find out stuff about Nigeria at all or if as usual it was just convenient to portray Africa through the West’s eye, no apologies given.

Some of the constant goofs Hollywood make about Africa, aside from being hurtful, appear to be somewhat deliberate, as if Hollywood is saying: ‘we don’t have to be factual when portraying you because you don’t really matter.’ Why else would they spend millions of dollar making sure sundry props are up to date and as factual as possible, but yet depict Africa constantly like post stone age society. I am not talking about racism and other like prejudices here (that will come), but simple truth about African realities and lifestyle.

Somehow Hollywood seems to derive a lot of joy – and money – making the world believe that Haggard, H. Ryder’s ‘King Solomon's Mines’ Africa existed and do still exist. Plain stupid or acute laziness, be the judge of that.

Most people in the west know next to nothing about Africa and seem to enjoy this ignorance. Perhaps it allows them to continue to see us as those half nude savages their history books tells them we are.

As a writer with a little online presence, one has had his fair share of stupid questions. A college graduate from the US once asked me how I managed to cure my guinea worm infection and dodge been drafted as a child soldier. It took all my strength to control my ragging anger and educate him a little. Apparently all he has ever heard about Africa were negative. The fact that I have never seen guinea worm firsthand or and knows nothing about child soldiers baffled him. But you live in Africa? He asked. Yes, I replied. But in Nigeria there are no child soldiers and I live in a modern city where Guinea worm does not exist.

This overgeneralization where Africa is concerned brings me to the issue of unabashed racism that the west seems to have inculcated into Hollywood movie culture. I recently watched the controversial Hollywood sponsored movie ‘District 9’ and came off feeling numb. For a movie set in Africa and directed by an African – presumably – there was very little about Africa on display aside from place names and black faces. As a Nigerian I was peeved at the constant referral to ‘Nigerian gang’, and wondered why the director wanted to make sure that tag stuck to the viewers mind. As a black man, I was also bothered by the fact that that future South Africa appeared to be the dream land the Afrikaners had wanted, the one with black servants, factory workers and white rulers.

Also, this movie very much followed the usual Hollywood cultural script (do little or no research about the Africans characters you portray) as the so-called Nigerian gangs spoke South African languages which Western ears will definitely hear as Nigerian languages. No wonder the movie got the nominations it did (I hear it just got nominated for both the Hugo and nebula.). Seems like Neil Blombank is receiving a lot of kudus for this rape of Africa in a movie where, for me, he killed the chance to really tell and African tale, at least a political correct one.

As for Hollywood, it is time they stop portraying us as ignorant savages that should be poked fun of in movie after movie. The producers and directors should spare a little expense on creating factual African characters that are synonymous to real life figures, just like they do for western characters. It is time Hollywood accepts that we do have home grown heroes here in Africa.

On a lighter note, one thinks Africa has come of age; we don’t need western heroes saving us movie after movie.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Homophobic their a*se!

I am vexed. But that is just the half of it. The source of my anger is something that is not politically correct, at least from a western point of view.

I am annoyed at being referred to as a ‘f**king homophobe’, whatever that means, by an American 'used-to-be' friend who couldn’t understand my support for the incarceration of a Malawian gay couple. To him, my American ex-friend, I am one of those Africans who are yet to take advantage of their professed education to lift himself above petty things like gay hating.

Well, what can I say... the Yank is not too farfetched in his summation. If my emancipation means leaning over to be poked through a passage meant for something the west considers so dirty, it is social taboo to mention in polite conversation, or allowing people’s wanton desires run amok, then I am altogether happy to remain an educated ‘bushman’.

My ex-friend, like most westerners and, of late, so-called sexually emancipated Africans are so caught up in their misplaced proselytising for free will and free choice that they miss the point totally; that this is not a battle (yes o, it has started) about an individual’s freedom of sexual orientation, but the right for an organized society to exercise the law as their constitution allows. Now, don’t start with that over flogged argument that Malawi and indeed Africa has more pressing problems than sexual rights. That does not cut the cheese either way. The brothers (abi na sisters) broke the law and got punished for it. Yes, public humiliation is a cultural way of punishing law breakers in most part of Africa; I bet my Yankee ex-friend didn’t know that.

There is still that question most Gay rights activists want answered, are Africans Homophobic? I will answer in the typical Nigerian way, why is this so important?
True, we have always had people who tumble in the sheets with like poles, yes ke, but does that excuse it?

Even in our traditional societies and – here I will agree with the gay rights people – it wasn’t introduced by the colonial masters or Arab traders. But the fact still remains that the traditional society abhorred this act enough to impose stringent penalties, which includes death in some cultures, to curtail it. And yes, these characters are not hidden, in Igboland we call them omekanwanyi – he that acts like a woman. But they don’t get to cross-dress or solicit men on the village streets. Even if they get to tumble in the sheets, it is not public knowledge, just like any straight couple’s tumble isn’t. I think this is important, no?)

In Naija we all know about what goes on in same-sex boarding schools. How the school mothers and fathers experiment with their sons and daughters and how sex thrives after lights out within the boarding house, but this was usually seen as a passing phase occasioned by boredom since most of the partakers drop the act after school and go on to have fulfilling relationships with the opposite sex. Though there are still others who fail to outgrow this and continue partaking even in the wider society.

And yes, there are openly homosexual people in many towns in northern Nigeria – the dan dawudus – who are very much integrated into the society. They may not have the kind of freedom most gay rights activists would wish for but they walk freely in the street and even get to cross dress to an extent (girly head ties and all) but who is really free in the world... another days talk, that.

Aside from serious Bible and Quran carriers, I doubt if anyone really bothers about what gays do with one another here, as long as they keep it among themselves and not break the law, don’t provoke the citizenry (sex in public is an offence even in the West, right?) and don’t try to convert children under the age of consent (that will be breaking the law anywhere I bet).

On my part, I don’t care much for homosexuality and think it is all about sex (sorry, I don’t buy that love crap) and believe giving people right to do what they please is tantamount to inviting chaos on the world. Soon people will ask to marry their progenies or even pets all in the name of over some hyped love, shouldn’t the government grant them that boon?

Perhaps I am biased, I have not had the privilege of meeting an openly homosexual man, but I have met a couple of female bisexuals (don’t know if that counts) who became good friends of mine – that’s how homophobic I am.

Arguments aside, I feel Africa should be wary of these gay activists. They are too powerful to be dismissed with a simple wave of the hand; at least they have conquered part of the Christian church, Bible and all. Now, openly homosexual priests preach the way to hell and salvation which I hope lies not through the s**t hole of some man.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The new super stars: Nigerian literature exits the long night

For the first time in a rather long while, something other than the usual monotony of sleeping, washing, writing and reading (in whatever order) crept into my Saturday calendar.

What replaced, to a large extent, these usual activities was the Farafina Trust literary evening with Chimamada and friends, something very much connected to my passion for writing, I rued missing it – for anything.

Though this would be my first time at the event, it wasn’t on that account that I was suffused with excitement, it also had nothing to do with the prospect of rubbing shoulders with Nigeria’s literary stars, na, it had much more to do with the Farafina trust’s creative writing program whose participants were to be unveiled that day.

It also had lots to do with the fact that after three years of trying to enter the writing program, I was finally able to submit an application on time. Two years before, I chanced upon news about the program weeks after it had rounded off and last year, I applied three days after the deadline for applications.

This year however, on account of my current job as an online editor for a business magazine and the pain of not applying on time before, I was waiting for it with abated breath. I made sure all those who might get advance knowledge of the program knew of my interest. My plans paid off as I got notice from award winning novelist Nnedi Okarafor and sent off an application immediately, then settled to await with abated breath for what I hoped would be a positive result.

I was very much elated when a personal e-mail came from none other than Ms Adichie herself reached my mail box, congratulating me for making the list of thirty five but informing me that, sadly, I was not among the final twenty selected for the program. Well, despite all my prayers and whatnot I didn’t get in. No leles, I said to myself, taking solace in the titillating fact that the celebrated author found my work good enough to warrant a personal note of encouragement. Dat kin ting no dey hapun evry day, Said I. I took this as a sign that there’s some good in my ramblings.

All said, perhaps you can understand my elation at being invited to the dinner in honour of those lucky twenty that made it into the biggest writing workshop in Nigeria.

I actually arrived about 45 minutes after the 3 o’clock the event was billed for (na naija we dey, had to make allowance for African time) and congratulated myself for good timing as the event was just kicking off.

I settled down to enjoy what turned out to be a very memorable evening, that is, if like me, you find the mixture of peppered snails, chilled Heineken and poignant words, provided by writers one had looked up to from afar, soul stirring.

All around me literary greats hovered, drawing envious glances from my fame seeking eyes. How I wish I am you, my eyes must have told them.

For the second time in two weeks I felt comfortable with my career choice – the first time was Adaobi Nwaubani’s ready at quintessence while watching people scramble for her book ‘I did not come to you by chance’ and having to fight for a copy with a rather determined young lady who wanted me to give in because I am ‘a man now’.

That same Nwaubani opened the floor to what will remain for munwa a memorable evening as she read from her award winning first novel. A parade of what read like Africa’s new millennium literary who-is-who also gave us tastes from their literary puddings, with Sade Adeniran, Chimamanda Adichie, Binyavanga Wainaina, Chika Unigwe, Nig Mhlongo and Eghosa Imasuen preparing the ground for the special guest of honour, Ghana’s Ama Ata who held not just my adoring eyes captive as she read first, samples of her poetry, then from her short story collection. I must mention at this juncture that her story ‘she who will be king’ stuck to my mind, probably on account of its futuristic leaning – I am at the moment involved in a futuristic anthology ‘Lagos 2060’ which seeks to tell tales set in Lagos 50 years hence.

It was a very fulfilling evening for me, one in which writers got the rare chance to shine in the public eye and we, the hopefully up and coming, got our chance to laugh with those who are shining the light we aim to follow.

As I was leaving a few minutes later and stopped to chat awhile with ace blogger Temitayo Olofinlua, with whom I had shared much more than one laugh a few day prior at another creative writing event, I chanced a look back at the lucky 20 and couldn’t help but wish I could switch places with one of them, the newly empowered.

All said I came off thinking that Nigerian literature, after a long night, is finally finding its way back to daylight again and was sure glad to be part of these, somehow.